Of all the signings the Los Angeles Lakers made this offseason, one that has somewhat slipped under the radar is that of young shooting guard Malik Monk.
After four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets, Monk hadn’t quite lived up to his status coming into the league, though he always showed flashes of what he could be.
Put simply, Monk knows how to score the basketball and has the ability to get hot at any moment, making him ideal for an off-the-bench heat check guard role. That was on display in the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Brooklyn Nets as Monk led the team with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
This role of coming in off the bench and providing an offensive spark is exactly what head coach Frank Vogel envisioned for Monk when the team signed him. Speaking with Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times, Monk made it clear that what he showed in the opener is what is expected of him:
“Coming in and doing what I did today. That’s my role and that’s what everybody expects from me and that’s what I’m going to do,” Monk said. “We talked about it. It’s no need to talk about it each and every day. Once he tell me one thing, I’ll get it and I’ll know what my role is.”
In a Lakers offseason filled with signings of veteran players, Monk was one of the few that was brought in that’s still in the early stages of his career. Of the 14 players on the team, only Talen Horton-Tucker and Austin Reaves are younger than the 23-year old Monk, who is already turning heads with his play.
On such a veteran team with multiple current and former All-Stars, Monk is embracing the opportunity to learn under the wing of these legends:
“Actually, all the guys are like big brothers to me because I’m pretty young,” Monk said. “They have been in the league for a minute, so they all just take me in and just teach me as much as (they) can in that day. Tomorrow they will teach me some more stuff and the next day they will teach me some more stuff. Everybody taking me in with open arms.”
Figuring out the Lakers’ backcourt rotation will be a difficult task for Vogel this season. Russell Westbrook will obviously be the constant, but Monk, Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington and Kendrick Nunn will all be battling for minutes as well with each bringing something different.
But if Monk can make performances like this one regular, he will be extremely tough to keep off the court.
Davis can’t believe Lakers signed Monk for the minimum
A player of Monk’s caliber, and at this young of an age, signing for a minimum contract is a rarity in today’s NBA. The move showed how important winning is to players and Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers are still surprised he’s in purple and gold.
“We’re still surprised we got him, to be honest,” Davis said. “He’s such a hell of a player. We saw what he did out there the minute he played. He can score the ball all three levels. Play hard, make the right reads. So he’s going to be fun to have this year.”
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